It was fascinating watching my kid learn to read: his school hired a native English speaker to teach English, using phonics. He preferred reading to almost any activity, but not in English (though we had plenty of books in that language) until I switched to reading with him only in English for a few months. The phonics led him down a false path.
I don't remember learning to read except one very brief memory where I was trying to read Sam Who Never Forgets.
However in 4th grade I was reading at a 12th grade level, and I was reading 300pg novels in 2-3 days while classmates were reading short kids books.
Phonics aparently worked very well for me. Though I'm not always that good with spelling.